Education - Curiosity and Exploration
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
What is education about?
Many people think of education as an institution where you attend to learn a curriculum, pass some tests, and then you can say you know that subject. Unfortunately, a lot of times people lose the actual meaning and value of education in the process.
I think education is about exploration more than plain old academics. I think learning is about understanding and developing skills that you can use elsewhere.
Learn or FAIL (which is bad)
Learning has to stem from curiosity. Curiosity is the drive to learn. I think that is one of the big things that we should nurture in our children in education. I feel like we try to use scare tactics a lot.
We try to stress them out, work them to death, and make them feel like you have to learn this, or you're going to fail, as if it's a terrible atrocity to make mistakes. We say they are going to end up homeless if they don't make A's in school and go to college. It takes the meaning out of the actual education. Education should be about exploring, self development, and having fun with learning curiosity.
I am an educator, so I have a lot of things to say on this subject. I think that one of the most important things that we can teach our children is how to learn properly. And I think the best way to learn is to be curious.
A good form of consumption
Learning as a form of consumption is very valuable as it's the input that you take in that probably most helps you create output.
Learning comes from a hunger: curiosity. You want to consume knowledge, insights, ideas, and understanding. When you do that, it is beautiful.
Obviously you have to know something to create value for the world. That is why I say, you create before you consume. Consumption is good, and learning is how you obtain the tools to create something. So this is one of the best forms of consumption, whether it's by reading a book, going to school, exploring and experimenting, or all sorts of great things.
You use the understanding you have
Learning is so important, because you use the knowledge you have. What you understand, you will use to better your life.
Once I was talking to my grandma, and she said that she's used her knowledge of history a lot in her life. Initially, I was kind of confused, because personally, I haven't used much history at all. But my grandma has.
Similarly, a lot of people say they haven't used much math in their lives, but I use math all the time in my life. I don't know how you could live without using a ton of math.
When I reflected upon this, I realized you use the understanding you have.
Whether you have a deep understanding of something or not, it will come up. If you do know it, you’ll know how to use it, how to apply it to your life, and how it can give you value.
That applies to basically any subject. Almost anything that you know, you can use.
I see that come up all the time. My grandma knows a lot about history, so in the points in her life where it came up, she understood history deeply enough that she could use it to better her life.
Personally, I understand math well enough that I use it to better my life. Some people would be better off if they understood math, but they don't know that because they don't understand it. You don't realize what you're missing out on unless you actually know what it is you're missing out on.
I can explain a lot of things in my life using math, and maybe other people don't have that same sort of understanding that math gives me. I know I'm missing a lot of understanding that other people have because I don't have the knowledge that they might have in their subjects in order to apply those to my own life.
The more you know, the more you can use to help yourself and others. It's amazing how little things that I know will pop up in my life. Even simple color coordination that my mom taught me has benefited my life. If you don’t know how to bake bread, you definitely won’t use it, but since I know how to bake bread, it has come up many times in my life.
Seek Learning (D&C 88:118)
The things that you understand can help you. This is why you should seek for more understanding. It's not about passing a test. It's not about trying to be the image of what you've been told is success. It's about bettering your life through the power of knowledge and understanding.
There's so many things you can learn.
History - Observe the patterns of human behavior through time.
Literature - Learn the methods of the masters of language.
Science - Discover how things work.
Math - Develop the understanding of logic and patterns.
Finance - Understand how money works and gain control of it.
Languages - Understand the ways others think and connect with them more deeply.
Music - Find the expression and power of pitched, rhythmic frequencies.
Art - Learn to express yourself visually.
Dance - Tell a story with aesthetic positions.
Business - Learn how business works and how you can fit into it.
Psychology - Learn how people think.
Religion - Learn the beliefs of others and find your own beliefs.
Learn anything that can bring joy and value to your life. Just make sure there is a focus on curiosity.
My growth in homeschool
I was very fortunate to be homeschooled by my wonderful mom, who was patient and gracious enough to take that task upon her. I learned so much in homeschool and I feel like in homeschool, I was able to develop a deeper love for learning than most people I know, because learning was no longer about passing tests or meeting a certain quota. I did have to take tests and I had to perform to certain standards, but my curriculum was tailored to my interests and my personal learning style.
Thus my grandma, who taught me history and literature, would help me remember historical figures by telling me fun facts about them and making me laugh.
My grandpa would make science more relatable to me with fun visuals, like putting a lollipop on a baseball cap to demonstrate positive and negative acceleration.
My mom would teach me from AoPS and show me why math really worked. She also coached me and gave me the opportunity to participate in math competitions, like MathCounts. That really helped me enjoy and get excited about doing well in math.
I was able to choose a lot of my own electives. My mom taught me home economics; I learned to sew, cook, and things that are very helpful in my life. I studied Russian, mostly by myself. I learned a lot and loved it!
I conducted my own studies of many famous books. I read a lot and I feel like I learned so much. The great thing is I was eager to learn. I wanted to know more.
If we can spark that curiosity in our children, then our work is practically done. If we can help them want to learn, then they will learn. After some time, I was teaching myself, because I wanted to learn. I still continue to crave knowledge and try to learn every single day of my life, so it is a life-long passion I developed as a child.
If people are curious, they're going to figure things out. Just like in mathematics: curious people had questions and went on quests to discover the answers. All we need is to trigger the first step.
My challenge to you, whether or not you have kids, is to be an example of curiosity. I want you to come up with a question, any sort of question, and I want you to spend 5-10 minutes learning about it. It doesn't take that much time; just learn something new right now. Make it something you're interested in (it doesn't have to be important by the world’s standards). Be curious and learn something new. Explore!